The legalisation of medical marijuana (Cannabis spp.) for treatment of human diseases has been accompanied by an increased use in animals. Much of this use is implemented without veterinary supervision by pet owners able to purchase animal dietary supplements derived from marijuana or its constituents. However, this use is largely accomplished by clients who access them through internet sites marketing products specifically for use in dogs and cats. Although such use is not currently evidence-based, support for medical use of marijuana-based products is increasing emerging in human medicine and most of the indications should extrapolate to animal diseases.
As a practice we don’t recommend CBD oil but are aware of clients using this product. We are bound by legislation and can only prescribe legally registered products. The purpose of this blog is to give a little bit of an insight into its uses. As with everything we would encourage you to seek veterinary advise before administering these products to your pet. Conventional medicine based on a thorough health examination is the way we work to ensure your pet gets the best veterinary care!
Marijuana refers to the dried leaves and tops of the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa). It has been a part of recreational, religious and medical activities of a variety of cultures for over 5,000 years and was among the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States Pharmacopeia until declared illegal in the 1930s Cannabis sp is a pharmacologically (and toxicologically) diverse herb, containing at least 480 distinct compounds with their proportions varying between each subspecies, the part of the plant, and how that product is cured or prepared. Plant products include, in addition to marijuana, hashish and hashish oil, formed from the resin secreted by the plant. Hemp is commonly used to refer to the stem of the marijuana plant. However, marijuana is one of several varieties of hemp plants grown and harvested specifically for the stem which is used for a variety of products such as ropes, animal bedding.
What do CBD Oils do?
Among these products the most understood effect is the psychogenic producing behaviour and pharmacological activity against pain. Cannabinoids are able to disrupt short-term memory, impair cognition and time perception, alter mood while enhancing body awareness, discoordination, sleepiness, and reduce attention focus and the ability to “filter” irrelevant information.
As with many CNS active drugs, marijuana is associated with both tolerance (higher concentration needed to impart a similar pharmacologic effect) and withdrawal (a clinical syndrome of nervousness, tension, restlessness, sleep disturbance and anxiety). As with other addictive agents, laboratory rodents have been demonstrated to self-medicate, suggesting an addictive component. Tolerance also should be expected: dogs exhibit a unique ataxic response (inability to walk correctly) to IV CBD. However, tolerance to this effect rapidly emerges within one week of repetitive treatment.
Marijuana and Pets
Legalisation in other parts of the world has yet to include veterinary medicine. Legalization of medical or recreation marijuana is likely to be associated with an increased incidence of toxicity, although toxicity may reflect additional ingested foods (e.g., chocolate). These products are among the compounds cited as a toxicologic hazard in detection (police) dogs. It is the most common drug to which detection dogs are exposed. Both dogs and cats may become intoxicated with smoke inhalation as well as ingestion of food containing marijuana (or hashish). It is absorbed rapidly following either oral or inhalant administration with clinical signs evident within 30 to 60 minutes of ingestion.
The most common signs of toxicity following ingestion in dogs include tachycardia, hypotension, depression, ataxia, vomiting (inducing emesis is not recommended in clinically depressed dogs because of the risk of aspiration), altered behaviour, bradycardia, hypersalivation, weakness, hypothermia and seizures. Treatment is largely supportive.
Medical Uses of CBD Oil
The proposed indications for medical marijuana have included, but are not limited to behavioural, sleep and gastrointestinal disorders, neuroprotection, antispasmodic but prokinetic, anorexia, nausea, glaucoma, diabetes, immunosuppression, malaria, anti-inflammatory and, of course, pain A proposed advantage of medical marijuana compared to a single drug is the multiple compounds contained in the plant.
However, finding evidence to support either the negative or positive effects of Cannabis can be difficult because such information is often tainted with emotionally mediated opinion.
CBD oil has been best prescribed for its use in controlling neuropathic pain. Cannabinoids have an analgesic effect on neuropathic pain in rodent models in addition to other receptors.
Suppression of convulsions/seizures: While the exact mechanisms resulting in suppression of epileptic seizures by cannabinoids are unknown, there are many receptors for cannabinoids in areas of the brain known to be sites where partial seizures originate CBD reduces calcium oscillations in hippocampal neurons in vitro and may exert its antiepileptic action by reducing calcium available for cell excitation. Experimentally, CBD attenuates experimentally-induced seizures in animals.
Neuroprotection: CBD is an antioxidant and as such has been proposed for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease. In rodents, CBD reverses brain damage associated with ischemia.
Vomiting and appetite: Control of vomiting and approved appetite are among the approved indications for FDA-approved cannabinoids in the USA.
Cancer: In addition to control of adverse clinical signs associated with cancer and its treatment, a number of the cannabinoids have antiproliferative-antiapoptotic effects in a number of tumour cell lines. The National Cancer Institute has a link describing ongoing studies: www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/cannabis-pdq.
Diabetes mellitus: CBD inhibits development of diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice, including ameliorating clinical signs of disease. This appears to reflect, in part, control of pancreatic inflammation, but also reduction of oxidative stress in target tissues (e.g., retina).
Bone formation: A number of cannabinoids stimulate mesenchymal stem cells responsible for bone formation and fracture healing. CBD Aldo controls bone resorption, reducing bone loss.
As with everything we aim to offer the best veterinary care to your patient. These products are not licensed for veterinary use and to be honest we don’t know a huge amount about. Therefore, we will offer conventional medicine. If you choose to use such a product for your pet, we would ask that you do your research well and please tell us as there is the possibility that CBD oil could react badly with other drugs we prescribe!